Tag Archives: La Capsule

148. Cantillon Gueuze-Lambic

Since we’re quite so comfortable sat at the bar here at La Capsule, let’s pick something more from the impressive tap list to follow the local speciality L’Angelus Bière de Garde.

I’m a big fan of Cantillon as is no doubt fairly clear by now. I toured the brewery in Brussels last year, and enjoyed the Kriek, then returned last month for the perhaps even better Rosé de Gambrinus. The Gueuze-Lambic is the core of the range, being the straight Geuze upon which the fruit-infused beers are based.

To my very great surprise, it’s served here at La Capsule in cask-conditioned form. I really had not expected to see handpumps in France, let alone one with Cantillon in it, so let’s not miss out.

Cantillon Gueuze-Lambic at La Capsule, Lille

The smell is amazing, eye-watering even. To be frank, cask Cantillon Gueuze-Lambic stinks to high heaven, but in a good way. The sourness is fully apparent but there’s a great yeasty funk to the aroma too, with mushroomy, musty, horse-inflected Brettonomyces-like yeast notes reminiscent of an aged Orval.

It smells nicer than it sounds, and obviously the flavour is stunning. Brow-moisteningly sour, it’s crammed with tangy, face-contorting citrus. Quality Geuzes such as the Cantillon always have so much depth and complexity behind that sourness though, from the expert blending of years-old barrel-aged Lambics.

That’s very much the case here, and the cask conditioning really works. Compared to the bottled or only slightly less rare keg beer, the edges are rounder and softer bringing a beautiful balance to proceedings. The finish is so long and dry I’ll still be tasting it back in London. This is a stunning beer in immaculate form.

I’m having a good day, all in all. With a few more moments to kill before running for the Eurostar, I followed the Cantillon with something called Capsoul. This is the La Capsule house beer, brewed by the renowned Belgian brewery De Struise. It was dark and rich and far easier to drink than its 10% strength might lead you to expect. So I had two.

It was starting to turn into a Saturday night at La Capsule by this point, and the somewhat compact bar was quite bustling, though the atmosphere remained as relaxed and convivial as I’m sure it always is. I was sad to leave, and I’ll make a point of returning before long.

Facts and Figures

Brewery: Brasserie Cantillon Brouwerij, Brussels, Belgium
Style: Lambic and Gueuze
Strength: 5.0% ABV
Found at: La Capsule, Rue des Trois Molettes, Lille, France
Serving: Cask, 25cl

147. L’Angelus

It has been quite a productive day in Lille. Having made early progress by tracking down the Leffe Triple, I inevitably found myself drawn towards L’Abbaye des Saveurs, a specialist local beer shop. Laden with rare yet remarkably inexpensive beers that you may soon be reading about, it was off to Les 3 Brasseurs for more drinking beer on a pavement in the rain.

And finally an eagerly anticipated highlight of the trip: La Capsule. A local institution, owned by the proprietors of L’Abbaye des Saveurs, this is where you end up when you type “best beer café in Lille” into Google, because nobody’s arguing.

La Capsule, Lille

La Capsule is tucked away down cobbled mediaeval streets and is open, quite frankly, when they feel like it. The tap lineup on the day was formidable: local specialities sat alongside Belgian gems from breweries such as Dupont and De La Senne and—somewhat unexpectedly—a couple of Scottish ales.

That barely left time to even look at the bottle menu, let alone the special menu, crammed with vintage Geuzes, aged Trappist ales and so forth. All in what is basically just a really nice little bar. I started with a L’Angelus au Froment from Brasserie Lepers.

L'Angelus at Lap Capsule, Lille

This is technically a substitution, since the Annoeullin Pastor Ale doesn’t appear to have existed for quite some years. It’s a pretty obvious drop-in, though, identical in style and also brewed by the Lepers family. Information is scarce, but I suspect this may even be the same brewery, having simply moved a bit and changed its name. And the names of all of its beers.

L’Angelus is our third example of a Bière de Garde, the style of beer almost synonymous with the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region in which we’re currently sat.

Darker in colour than the 3 Monts, L’Angelus is noticeably sweeter and even a little sticky, whilst staying just the right side of cloying. There are noticeable honey notes and perhaps a little wheat. I don’t know if Belgian yeast is used, but this one seems more reminiscent of a Belgian blonde or amber beer, as opposed to displaying that lagery dryness that the 3 Monts had in spades.

I suspect this one would not work quite so well as a table beer as we found the 3 Monts did, instead being ideal for taking your time over and sipping in smallish quantities in a pleasant bar.

Which is terribly convenient, really. I remember enjoying this one a great deal, whilst managing a scandalously negligent smattering of useful tasting notes. I’m not sure that matters: sometimes it’s better to just enjoy a beer and the experience surrounding it. Stay tuned to see what else I found at La Capsule.

Facts and Figures

Brewery: Brasserie Lepers, La Chapelle-d’Armentières, France
Style: Bières de Garde
Strength: 7.0% ABV
Found at: La Capsule, Rue des Trois Molettes, Lille, France
Serving: Keg, 25cl